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Your Child's First Dentist Visit: What to Expect

Jennifer A. DiGiovanni

The arrival of baby teeth is momentous because they allow children to graduate to a variety of new foods. In addition to celebrating this new stage in your baby's development, you should also begin to think about a first visit to the dentist. Although parents of infants may not yet be concerned with dental care, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that the first dentist visit for children take place before a baby's first birthday. Initially, dental visits are mostly informative in nature, but even at this early age, dental professionals help to establish a proper oral care routine that can last a lifetime.

Finding a Pediatric Dentist

To find a pediatric dentist, check with your pediatrician or insurance company about providers in your area. Additionally, you may want to ask friends and family members for referrals. Narrow your search based on locations and office hours that fit best into your schedule. Try to interview several pediatric dental practices before selecting the one where you and your child feel most comfortable. In addition to calling for information, many dental practices also have websites with FAQs to help answer your questions.

Prepare in Advance

Ensure that your child is well rested and not hungry around the time of the appointment. It may be helpful to write down a list of questions ahead of time to ask the dentist. Very importantly, check with your dental insurance provider about copays and coverage before the day of your child's first dentist visit. Most dental providers ask for proof of dental and medical insurance at time of service. Last, bring a list of your child's current medications, and be prepared to fill out a health history form.

Although it is not necessary to prepare extremely young children in advance of a dental appointment, you may want to discuss the first visit with an older child. If your child experiences some anxiety over a dental appointment, try to ease his worries by reading books about dentists or by watching television shows to help to visualize what the visit will be like.

What to Expect during Your Child's First Dentist Visit

During the first visit, the dentist will typically educate parents on proper gum and tooth care for babies. You may also discuss pacifier use and how proper nutrition helps to maintain healthy teeth. The dental professional should also demonstrate brushing techniques for parents so that they are able to knowledgeably assist young children with oral care. At the end of the appointment, the dentist should also provide you with the opportunity to ask questions.

By establishing a good working relationship with a pediatric dentist, parents will ensure that their child receives proper dental care beginning at an early age. Setting a precedent for dental appointments at an early age helps children to become accustomed to a proper oral care routine.

Learn more about your child's first dental appointment in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

Source: Flickr/Thomas Ricker

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